Fresh off of my trip to Guatemala and Honduras in January, I had no expectations that I would have time to play in a Kubb Tournament in February. And I hadn’t touched a baton in over a month. But enough pressure from my partner, and an offer for someone to watch my kids resulted in another opportunity for the Ringers to play some tournament kubb!
The Ringers had a disappointing finish in the 2012 Loppet, throwing 5 batons at a field kubb and turning in a loss early in the bracket. But that was last year, on the grass of a golf course. This year we were on the lake, on the ice, in the cold. We came ready to play, with plenty of layers and a pump pot full of coffee.
Here I am drilling some kubbs in the late afternoon semifinal match against Sukface. I can’t remember who took this picture. Jamie?
The event was well organized and very well attended. It was a Kubb oasis in the windswept snowscape, juxtaposed with the highly urban skyline. Food trucks, beverages and bathrooms were conveniently located. I generally eat very little before and during Kubb tournaments. In a nod to a major Kubb partner, I often eat a Reallygood in the morning and another in the early afternoon. This fueled my fire for the loppet. We had a great time in the morning round robins and had a swell showing as the tournament heated up in the afternoon.
As the sun set, the partnership between Minnesota Kubb and the Loppet became very clear. The pitches were lit with giant lanterns brought in by the loppet crew. A big balcony of the beer garden provided a good view for spectators in the final round.
My dad and I made it into the final match facing the Knockerheads from Des Moines. While I truly claim no enemies in Kubb, if I needed to pick one it would be them. Because I need my enemy to be good. Really good. And push me and my dad beyond where we’ve been. The Knockerheads provided that push. Shoved us over, in fact. Among their feats was knocking five down in their opening turn and tossing the sixth baton across the pitch. We came back eliminating a few in their back line, but the game was over quickly, as well as the match. I wouldn’t have wanted to lose to anyone else that day.
Paid to play.
This tournament also proved to be a turning point in my Kubb career. A cash prize for second place helped pay for gas and registration! Never have I been payed to play kubb like that.
I learned how to play kubb from Eric Anderson in roughly 2007. He was a regular customer at the co+op I started, and we had a great location with a perfect kubb pitch across the street. We called it “peace park” and it was the site of numerous Kubb Friendlies. Adjacent to the Chippewa River, with bald eagles souring overhead and directly on the main bike trail in the center of town. This is what I consider to be the epicenter of Kubb in North America.
Since that fateful meeting, I have played kubb every week, if not every day. Until work got in the way.
I spent a few hours each day writing for work. Thanks to Nancy for the photo, taken in Antigua.
In January of 2013 I had the incredible privilege of traveling to Honduras and Guatemala on behalf of the farmer-run organization I work for. (read about it here!) I’ve traveled regularly since learning Kubb and have always brought it along. Particularly when I’m headed south of the border. So it was with great trouble that I left all of my kubb pieces at home and traveled for 21 days with no equipment. I needed to travel light. Despite my fears, it was amazing, and I plan to take a “vacation” from Kubb every so often so I can remember what life was life BK (Before Kubb).
Although I didn’t really think about kubb, and certainly didn’t practice, I was becoming a better kubb player nonetheless. In both countries I was exposed to risky situations requiring all of my senses. I put my life in the control of strangers many times ( I don’t speak Spanish so I was relatively vulnerable) and was “outside of my box” for longer than I can ever recall. Writing this, now months later, I can see how my kubb game hasn’t necessarily improved, but that my mental game is in a much better place. Specifically, I’m enjoying the game more and feeling less stress.
Juggling is a great way to communicate with kids. Especially when you can’t speak their language. Juggling makes people feel more comfortable, and better conversations and photos come as a result! Juggling is also great cross-training for kubb.
I also used my hiatus as an opportunity to change up some bad behaviors and come back with more natural yet deliberate body motions. I always hear kubbers talking about “changing up the throw”, paying attention to a wrist angle or a foot position. This was my opportunity to reboot, and I took it. We’ll see if it affects my performance this season!